Monday, October 20, 2008

Please, Liberals, as a friend and well-wisher...*

...stop listening to Scott Reid, if you ever did.
I think we start with the voters we've just lately lost, that are most within reach. Not those we've rarely held or fall farthest away.

Mr. Dion gave us a new life in Quebec. I agree we need to work on that base and expand it. We can also reclaim support in Vancouver. And among New Canadians and the Jewish community. And we have to break out of urban Canada - that comes with a more resonant focus on the middle-class.

However, a Howard Dean-ish "50 States"-like approach to rebuilding a party that hasn't actually been torn down is a mistake in my view. To focus on the 100 seats in which we are weakest - to dedicate any substantial resources to large parts of Alberta for example - is simply poor strategy. It won't work. It will hurt and it will surely diminish our voter coalition rather than strengthen it.
Some of what Reid says is, in fact, sound tactical thinking -- especially the part about trying to get back the voters most recently lost. But re-read part of the above for me:
However, a Howard Dean-ish "50 States"-like approach to rebuilding a party that hasn't actually been torn down is a mistake in my view.
There are a number of things that strike me about this statement:

1) Scott Reid doesn't understand how bad things are for the Liberal Party of Canada at the moment.

2) More importantly, Mr. Reid has a dangerously high threshold for deciding when, exactly, the Liberal Party of Canada should make reform a serious priority.

It's #2 that interests me most. Consider two pairs of elections, one of which began the Democratic Party's shift to a 50-state strategy (2000-2004) and the Canada's most recent election and the immediately preceding one (2006-2008).

Dem. Vote in US Presidential Election
2000: 48.4%
2004: 48.3%

Liberal vote in Canadian election
2006: 30.23%
2008: 26.23%

In the US, the change in the Congressional vote is even more striking, because in 2004 the Democrats actually gained substantially vs. their turnout in 2002. Yet, despite having a party that was objectively in a much stronger position both relatively and absolutely, the Democrats (wisely, in my view) began a concerted effort to fight for areas of the country where they had not been competitive before. Given that the victory in 2006 was won on the backs of Virginia and Montana Democrats, it's clearly paid dividends.

Meanwhile, Scott Reid thinks that the Liberal Party -- which he concedes just had it's worst showing ever -- doesn't need to do anything as drastic as what the Democrats do.

No wonder we can't get serious about climate change in this country. Even when it's literally their own friggin jobs at stake, the Liberal Party has no interest in changing a losing strategy.

Just thank your lucky stars these guys went in to politics instead of firefighting.

"Ah! Somebody help me!"

"Let's not overthink things here..."

"Fuck you, my house is on fire!"

*I am actually not wildly friendly or wishing the Liberals well at this point. Fooled ya!

1 comment:

Halden said...

I don't think you can completely discount Scott Reid's points as he makes some valid ones.

I do however agree that his influence should be downplayed as his influence and the Martin coup are probably the beginning of these issues.